Plasma Gasification Will Turn Household Waste Into Electricity

landfill
Kitchen waste is better used to produce syngas and electricity.
(cc) D’Arcy Norman

Alter NRG Corp. and Dufferin County have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a plasma gasification energy recovery facility that will process 75 tonnes per day of household waste and convert it into syngas and approximately two megawatts of electricity in the County of Dufferin, Ontario. The MOU includes funding by Dufferin County of an initial $200,000 of preliminary engineering on the project.

In May, 2009, Dufferin selected Alter NRG as the technology provider and initial operator for the energy recovery facility. The facility is expected to be located at a partially permitted site at East Luther Grand Valley. Under the terms of the MOU, Dufferin County will provide the waste feedstock for a 20 year period, a serviced site for the facility, and will work with Alter NRG to obtain regulatory approval, project financing, and government grants for the project.

The project will incorporate Alter NRG’s commercially proven Westinghouse Plasma Gasification Technology which uses high temperature plasma energy to convert the waste into a syngas which is then converted to electricity through conventional turbine equipment. The Westinghouse Plasma Gasification Technology has been used commercially in two energy recovery facilities in Japan for over six years. The Japanese facilities have met all Japanese environmental standards which are similar or more stringent than North American standards.

The decomposition of waste in landfills produces methane gas, which is 21 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas emission. According to Environment Canada, methane gas emissions from Canada’s landfills accounts for 25% of man-made methane emissions. Estimates have shown that over 25 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions are being generated annually from Canadian landfills which are the equivalent to the emissions from approximately 5.5 million cars on the road. Using the Westinghouse Plasma technology in Dufferin County will reduce approximately 900 metric tonnes daily of CO2 that are contributing to climate change.

Mark Montemurro, President and CEO of Alter NRG states that “It is exciting to have the Westinghouse Plasma Gasification Technology selected for another project in North America. The Ontario market is an exciting growth market to showcase our technology as it has expedited regulatory approvals and government programs and incentives for clean energy projects such as this.”

“The County of Dufferin is very excited to be moving ahead with this energy from waste facility as it demonstrates Dufferin’s leadership and commitment to environmentally responsible means for treating waste”, said Warden Gordon D. Montgomery.

Councilor Ed Crewson, Chair of the Community Development Committee for Dufferin County stated, “The selection of Alter NRG to provide the technology for our Energy from Waste facility will result in the generation of green energy through the gasification of our waste. This is a major step forward in creating a sustainable Dufferin County and thereby protecting our environment for our children’s benefit.”

The financing of the $32 million facility is expected to be in the form of government grants and incentives, municipal and other debt as well as partner equity contributions. Alter NRG is the initial operator, however the company intends to find additional partners in the project which will have a minority working interest. The capital contribution by Alter NRG is expected to be recovered on the project through margins from engineering and equipment sales.

Dufferin and Alter NRG will advance the plant design and initialize project financing and permitting during the next six to twelve months. Construction is expected to start in late 2010 to have the plant fully operational by late 2012. The plant is expected to be constructed on a site originally intended for a landfill and is part of a larger Eco Energy Park.

Dufferin County is located in south-central Ontario, Canada. The County’s 200 acre (80.94 hectare) undeveloped waste management site in the Township of East Luther Grand Valley, recently named Dufferin Eco-Energy Park (“DEEP”) is on the verge of a transformation into multiple, visionary, multi-use energy-from-waste facilities.

Alter NRG is pursuing alternative energy solutions to meet the growing demand for environmentally responsible energy in world markets. The Company’s vision is to commercialize growth technologies through environmentally sustainable and economically viable alternative energy projects. The Company’s objectives are twofold; First, is to further commercialize the Westinghouse Plasma Gasification Technology, a wholly owned subsidiary, to provide renewable and clean energy solutions from a wide variety of feedstock’s, and providing a wide variety of energy outputs – including liquid fuels like ethanol, power, and syngas; Second, to capitalize on the rapidly growing geoexchange residential and commercial heating and cooling market through a wholly owned subsidiary CleanEnergy that enables consumers to reduce their carbon footprint and reduce the cost and volatility of energy bills using the energy from the earth.

Read Waste to Energy: Opportunities and Challenges for Developing and Transition Economies from Amazon.